Mar 26, 2007

Black to Comm - Ruckwarts Backwards (Dekorder 2006)

Computers are a funny thing, I'm sure you've heardtell. Enable some things and takes a shit on some others. Going to antique stores in the sticks has all but been ruined. You're in a shop in Tyrone, Georgia, holding a wooden Tibetan prayer wheel, thinkin', "Wow. I bet I can get this for less than 50 bills, seeing as these folk probably know zilch about it." So you walk up to the counter where the guy who used to be school superintendant but retired so he could sit on a porch and hock old-timey things to his neighbors and friends and dumb yankees like myself who blunder into his town is sitting and you say, "How much for this?" And he says, "Not sure. Let me see what it's fetchin' on eBay..." And thus your remarkable find has been plucked from your consciousness like a fat plum. He can charge you whatever he wants because some guy in Nebraska has just got to have that Tibetan prayer wheel and he's set his maximum bid mad high, and some schmuck in Oxnard is tearing his hair out trying to figure out how high Nebraska set the mark, so the numbers are climbing. Then again, from the old-timer's perspective, he's just prevented some fast-talkin' yankee from hornswaggling him out of what he knows is a valuable piece. & so it goes. Actually, that guy was really nice and did know what it was and what it's for and even asked why I was interested. When I told him I'd just got this set of CDs called Buddhist Ritual Music From the Monasteries of Bhutan he may not have known about that specific release, but he made a mock-chanting sound and bowed his head. Then he only charged me twenty-bucks. Who knew? So there you go. Situations are just ripe with colors and so is this here record, which happens to have been recorded all up in a computer, thereby qualifying my jumbled, marked-out statement.
Black to Comm's built Ruckwarts Backwards out of asymmetrical vinyl loops, all scratchy and nostalghic sounding, but less kitschy than Tom Recchion and his ilk, with some layered vocals and acoustic accoutrements. No lounge records here, thankfully. There is one with a tin-pan alley type jam in the track "March of the Vivian Girls"--which is probably a reference to the Henry Darger characters, which may or may not be of interest to anyone--but it quickly evolves into something else. My favorite on here is the first, "Bees", where a field recording of the fussy insects becomes a kind of bee-karaoke, as someone does their best bee impression over the track. That one feels the most upfront and the least computery, which is probably why I like it best. You know, things assembled and recorded inside a computer tend to not have any space. It feels less like cohabitation of sound space and more like that one roommate you had who, no matter what, just had his shit all on top of your shit. Maybe the human voice became the proverbial human voice in the machine and that's why it felt personal. I mean, this record feels like it's trying to be intimate, with the scratchy vinyl and delicate plucking, slightly used instruments and homemadey cover, but I can just barely make out a silhouette of the musician it's describing. My description of the instruments and sound elements up a few lines must sound like every single record released in the last 2 years: layered vocals, acoustics, field recordings... Oh, sure. It could be Feathers, Brightblack Morninglight, Anthropological Bundt Cake, the whole damn Invisible Pyramid, anything on Digitalis Industries, anything Finnish, the Dirty fucking Projectors, and on and on. Christ, if Aquarius Records loved it, you can add it to the list, too. Which is too bad, because he's trying really hard to make this something else. And it is a lot better than most of the aforementioned if only because it makes a b-line for the future and he's got a good sense of shape, size and harmony. Maybe the new one has more space and will sound less like it's being produced by my stereo. I'll check it out soon and let you know. Then again, another entry in the bedroom four-track free-folk movement might just put me in the hospital.

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